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By: Christopher Norment
215 pages, Map
Based on three seasons of field research in the Canadian Arctic, Christopher Norment's exquisitely crafted meditation on science and nature, wildness and civilization, is marked by bottomless prose, reflection on timeless questions, and keen observations of the world and our place in it. In an era increasingly marked by cutting-edge research at the cellular and molecular level, what is the role for scientists of sympathetic observation? What can patient waiting tell us about ourselves and our place in the world?
His family at home in the American Midwest, Norment spends months on end living in isolation in the Northwest Territories, studying the ecology of the Harris' Sparrow. Although the fourteenth-century German mystic Meister Eckhardt wrote, "God is at home, we are in the far country," Norment argues that an intellectual, emotional, and spiritual "far country" can be found in the lives of animals and arctic wilderness. For Norment, "doing science" can lead to an enriched aesthetic and emotional connection to something beyond the self and a way to develop a sacred sense of place in a world that feels increasingly less welcoming, certain, and familiar.
Norment has crafted that rarest of all books, the study of a creature that demonstrates to know it is to know ourselves, but that also shows how such a task is far too important to delegate solely to science or art. It is an act that requires both. Norment's parsing of poems and art is on par with his ability to gather field observations, and our world is larger for it. - William L. Fox, author, Terra Antarctica "Chris Norment's narrative of his summers studying Harris's Sparrows in the far north is one of the most stirring accounts of biological fieldwork I've read. It memorably conveys both the clarity of his scientific methods and findings and the complications of their philosophical, ethical, and emotional context. Norment's discussion of the relationship between scientific nomenclature and a vivid awareness of nature was particularly impressive for me." - John Elder, author, Reading the Mountains of Home and Pilgrimage to Vallombrosa"
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Christopher Norment is a professor of environmental science and biology at SUNY College at Brockport, where he specializes in the breeding biology and ecology of migratory birds. In addition to numerous scientific articles, he is the author of In the North of Our Lives.
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